Anne van Kesteren

Xbox LIVE Recover Gamertag Feature

I had this great plan to rant here about the “Recover Gamertag” feature on the Xbox. And hopefully be noticed by someone on the Xbox QA team and get it fixed in some Xbox LIVE update. I usually do not play on my own Xbox 360. If there is a really great game, such as Modern Warfare 2, I might get into it for half a day, but typically I play on someone else’s Xbox 360. And each time that happens and we want to play online Xbox gamertags need to be recovered. This is an extremely painful process. First you enter your gamertag. You do not select it. In fact, you cannot select it. No, you enter it character by character using the directional buttons on the controller. Extremely painful and also superfluous as the gamertag is typically already known by the system. It gets worse from there. Now you need to enter your email address. Then your password. Apart from the fact that it takes ages it is also very annoying. Then you have to agree to a disclaimer that was not downloaded in the background but is in fact downloaded right that instant. At least that is the only way I can explain the extreme slowness for it to appear. And even though you will not read it you still have to wait because the agree button is disabled until the download has completed. After that you still have to wait around a minute for your profile associated with your gamertag to be downloaded. It must be either fricking huge or on a slow server. Either way, it sucks. After that all should be fine and you can play your game.

Now I said had at the start, because as it turns out Microsoft recommends me to carry my gamertag and associated profile around on some kind of storage device. Where as I use their servers as some kind of storage space. So arguably I am incorrectly using the “Recover Gamertag” feature and can therefore not complain about it being so broken, because in theory you rarely need it. However, working with an Xbox 360 storage device seems rather non-trivial and extremely cumbersome. Not to mention the fact that you have to remember to copy all your data each time you might end up playing a game somewhere else and you have to carry that storage device around. On top of that both Xbox USB drives are rarely empty because the play & charge kits have to be continuously plugged in as their batteries are horribly broken.

Putting this data in “the cloud” seems so obvious. Especially since it already mostly is. The user interface just needs to be cleaned up.


  1. You can just use the storage device for all your game saves and your profile, no need to copy the data back and forth. It then becomes very simple to move around a profile to multiple Xboxes.

    But having it in the cloud would be pretty rad.

    Posted by Patrick Cavit at

  2. Well yeah, except I would still need not forget to bring the physical disc with me wherever I go. No fun and unlikely to happen.

    Posted by Anne at

  3. I agree that the Recover Gamertag method is really slow and annoying, but there's another solution:

    Microsoft changed the Xbox within the last couple of months to allow you to use pretty much any USB stick/device as an Xbox memory card. I now use that feature all the time to carry my Xbox Live profile with me. I also have my save games on there too, since you're allowed to use sticks up to 16GB in size.

    Posted by David Carrington at

  4. What is the _real_ reason why you can't just plug in a generic usb keyboard or mouse to quickly enter text (or play an fps)?

    Posted by thinsoldier at

  5. The _real_ reason? Sounds complicated. Usually however getting a keyboard would take much more time than entering it via the controller. Also, not everyone has spare keyboards all over the place.

    Posted by Anne at

  6. *click* *password* *done*

    Instead of


    Get with the programme MS!

    Posted by James John Malcolm at